How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

SA divorce rate increases in 2013

 

Statistics from South Africa's Department of Justice for 2013 so far indicate that there has been a 28% increase in the number of divorce cases recorded compared to those in 2012.

I got a call from a newspaper journalist asking for my legal opinion as to why there has been a big increase in the divorce rate in 2013. According to her research from a report from the Justice Department there has been a 28% increase in new divorce cases.

The first question I asked is whether that statistic is in fact accurate or not? Secondly whether that statistic applies to high court matters as well as regional court matters or only one of those courts (you can get divorced in either the regional court or the high court these days)? I also asked whether that statistic applies to courts throughout the country or only to the courts in certain provinces?

She later sent me an email stating that the figures are in respect of the regional courts throughout South Africa. She wanted to know whether it is becoming easier to get divorced and what in my opinion are the contributing factors to the increasing divorce rate? Why I think more people are opting for divorce and whether I think this statistic is accurate?

To answer her final question in her email, no, I do not really believe the statistic to be entirely accurate. It is the court’s duty after hearing the divorce case, to send the divorce order to Home Affairs. Very often this does not get done due to poor administration at the court, particularly at the regional courts. The end result of this is that it is very difficult to say how many divorces take place each year.

There may well have been a 28% increase in divorce matters in 2013, but that percentage increase may in fact have been more.

The fact of the matter is that in our society there will always be marriage and there will always be divorce. That means that a divorce attorney will always have work. Gay and lesbian couples have been allowed to legally marry and this also may be a factor which led to the increase in divorces too. The usual factors of drug and alcohol abuse may also have played a role in the increase in divorces. I practise in Cape Town and the increase in the use of the drug “tik” may well have affected the divorce rate. It certainly is linked to the high crime rate in the Western Cape.

In my practise I have not noticed a huge increase in divorce cases in 2013. I am always busy but it has not been a situation where all of a sudden I have too much work to cope with. In fact, as in previous years, whatever new work I can get, is much appreciated.

It is a lot easier for people to get divorced nowadays too, as the client has the option of going to his/her local regional court to get divorced. Whereas in the past he/she would have had to go through the high court to get a divorce, where it takes forever to get a court date.

What I have found recently however is that parties cannot afford to pay as much in legal fees right now as opposed to a year or two ago. Parties simply cannot afford top legal representation these days. Some clients these days even opt to go to the regional court and try to get the divorce without legal representation, if they don’t have much money. All in all it is and has always been very easy for anyone to get divorced in South Africa, as opposed to other countries.

In my opinion, if there has been such a large increase in the divorce rate in 2013, this is a good thing. A high divorce rate in my opinion may well mean that there will be less crimes involving domestic violence, which is a serious offence to be guilty of in our law. A society cannot thrive if there are too many unhappy couples still living together and it is an abusive marriage.

article written by Cape Town divorce attorney, Peter M Baker

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